Date: Wed, 22 Mar 1995 21:06:39 -0800
NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information
Subject: nanews03.012 (part A)
To: Multiple recipients of list NATIVE-L 'NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
Original Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary Night Owl)
Mailing List: NATIVE-L (email@example.com)
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 95 17:53:20 MST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary Armstrong)
Subj: Public Native Intellectuals
I finished reading an article called
The New Intellectuals by
Robert S. Boynton from Atlantic Monthly. This author has written an
interesting article and much positive insight into the world of Jewish
and Afro-American thinkers.
While reading this article I began to notice a commonality of Afro-American and Aboriginal experience. Also, I questioned how, what, why, when, and where did these people travel (emotionally & intellectually) in their personal experiences and as visible ethnic groups.
There is no doubt Afro-Americans have achieved milestones in American history. As Boynton's article mentions, just look at Toni Morrison or Henry Louis Gates. Indeed, such individuals help to shed light and understanding on Afro-American life.
And so I questioned and looked for Native thinkers. As a teacher, writer and Aboriginal it's only natural to think of possibilities of what ones group can achieve. It is only natural to look at the writers and thinkers of Native background. I noticed there exists what is known as Public Intellectuals of Aboriginal origins on the Internet (ie. Native Net), Native newspapers, and Native magazines.
Robert Boynton explains that a public intellectual is not limited to college professors. This author hits upon something very intriguing, the public intellectual shows critical intelligence and a moral vision. The contemporary public intellectual is from new generation of thinkers.
If we look at the Native/Aboriginal experience in the past 100 years in North America, we can see a stark difference from each generation's experiences and attitudes. Before 1960's the Afro-American and Native people could not vote in United States. In Canada, Native (treaty) people were not allowed to vote in federal elections. Treaty Indians had a choice of give-up their right as a treaty Indian and tribal member if they were to vote.
After WWII, Native people wanted voting rights. Many Native people in Canada had volunteered their lives during this world war. My mos'hom (grandfather) fought in WWII for Canada. After WWII he was not allowed to vote until mid 1950's. By this time, the next generation of Native people were fighting for voting rights. Native political activists emerged. Many of our mothers, fathers, and relates fought for voting rights and human/social justice - now known as Pan Indian era of North American history.
The next generation, the present Native people. Many of these Native people are university educated and self-educated. Native people such as writers, theorist, educators, lawyers, professors, and professionals have emerged. A few of these individuals are what I would call the Native public intellect which has been explained so eloquently by Mr. Boynton on the Jewish and Afro-American thinkers.
Many of these Native people can be seen on Native Net and other Native media such as tv, books, newsprint - paper and electronic magazines. Take a closer look at Aboriginal Voice or Gary Night Owl's Wotanging Ikche (American Native electronic News) you will see some Native public intellectuals with their own distinct thoughts and powerful writing styles.
A Native public intellectual is a critical thinker and has a moral sense of social justice that has been learned from her/his elders, parents, relatives, friends, and community. They are sensitive to the Indian ways and knowledgeable about present broader societal ways outside of Native communities. These individuals at times seem to be protective of Native plight. And, some are seen as unruffled subtle thinkers to the Native concern, ready to protect their pride and concern of Native people.
As Mr. Boynton mentions about the public intellectual, these individuals are active in what they believe. They are not isolated and protected from society in the walls of university life and only writing in isolated academic journals. Native public intellectuals are not obsessed with wrongness of societal ways. These individuals are very different from the past, they have and are developing into distinct writers in North America.
Some Native writers of this generation on Native Net and other print media, are equally dynamic and creative in their writing as past Native generations in their life struggles. These writers show pride in their ability as thinkers and writers. They are a powerful force that must be recognized by both Native and non-Native societies.
Native public intellectuals are very powerful and influential writers of our time. As many politicians understand, it is a political necessity to acknowledge Native public intellectuals for these individuals are of value to a society and to a Nation State.
Just think, what will hold for the next generation of Native public intellectuals. Will there be a Native Toni Morrison or a Henry Louis Gates?
As a teacher of Native children, I forever have these dreams of my students future successes.